The Good Friday ban on alcohol sales is "unacceptable" and "a ridiculous law" that even the Vatican doesn't have according to the Restaurants' Association of Ireland.
The points were made by the association in the context of this busy time for the tourism, restaurant and hospitality industry, particularly in this year.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Association, said that the law is not only affecting our tourism brand abroad, but business internally as well.
“This law affects more than just the diners who want a drink, it affects thousands of restaurant employees on a busy weekend when restaurants simply won’t open. It is unacceptable to have this archaic ban in place on religious grounds, especially in the multi-cultural and multi-religious society that Ireland has become.
"Aside from the law showing a 19th-Century image of Ireland to incoming tourists, many restaurants decide to close their doors on Good Friday.
"Between 1916 centenary celebrations and an international soccer friendly in the Aviva Stadium, Easter weekend, 2016 is expected to draw an estimated quarter of a million visitors to Ireland. A change in legislation to allow for the sale of alcohol on Good Friday this year would be worth €25 million to the industry and €6 million to the government in taxes.
"Ireland must be the only country in the world that has a bank holiday weekend and actually chooses to close the tourist attractions it is best known for - the centres of craic and ceol - the restaurants and pubs of the country. Even the Vatican City doesn’t obey this ridiculous law.”
Mr. Cummins is highlighting the restaurateurs’ frustration as several greyhound stadiums around Ireland have been granted licenses to serve alcohol on Good Friday. The legislation also provides certain other exemptions- allowing the sale of alcohol to those travelling by sea, rail, air or ferry.
People can also be sold alcohol while attending a licensed theatre, a national cultural institution or guests staying in a licenses premises, such as a hotel, as long as it is with a meal.
Cummins highlights that “These businesses are working the law and using it to their advantage- why shouldn’t restaurants? It’s tough for all businesses relying on customers to part with their well-earned cash on a long weekend. They cannot afford to open without serving alcohol, and they definitely cannot afford to close either.”
He also noted that “In 2009, Judge Mary Fahy said prosecuting restaurants which offered wine with meals on Good Friday was ‘ludicrous’ in today's world. During a hearing in Galway District Court, she decided not to record convictions against nine restaurants that had done this.
I would urge all people in a position of power to take a similar stance, and help support local businesses this Easter weekend.”